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Carnival ride at the Mid-State Fair inspected, but stays shut

State investigators expect to know today what caused a 9-year-old girl to be tossed from a carnival ride at the California Mid-State Fair on Tuesday.

The girl, whose name and hometown were not released Wednesday, suffered minor injures and was released Tuesday evening from Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton. Her car on the Super Himalaja ride was apparently moving backward when she was tossed onto the ride’s platform, according to Jerry Smithson, risk manager for the ride’s owner.

Smithson and other investigators remained at the fair Wednesday night.

“We’re checking into a problem with the ride,” Smithson said. “It takes time, and I can’t rush it, but we’re looking to finding the problem so it doesn’t happen again.”

She was originally thought to have been riding between two friends, Smithson said, but it was later determined she was sitting beside them.

The attraction has remained closed since the incident.

Officials with the state department of industrial relations inspected the ride Wednesday for potential malfunctions.

Super Himalaja features cars fixed on a circular track that spins forward and then backward at an angle.

Smithson said the ride’s operators told him that the lap bar and ride didn’t malfunction, and it was determined Wednesday that it wasn’t rider error. Additional details were not disclosed.

A woman who rode the same Super Himalaja on Monday night with her 7-year-old son said she felt like they could have fallen out. It was going too fast, she said.

She yelled for the operator to stop the ride at least eight times, she said, before it did.

“It was awful,” said Gretchen Ross of Cayucos. “I stopped it because I was afraid for our lives.”

Smithson said a computer operates the ride’s speed, not the operator. Operators might ask if riders want to go faster, he said, but it’s not increased manually. The ride’s speed has not been disclosed.

The state’s investigation report usually takes two months to complete, state industrial relations spokeswoman Krisann Chasarik said Wednesday. It will include the inspection and interviews with the girl and witnesses.

If the state determines that the ride operator or owner is at fault, Chasarik said, it will shut the ride down until the corrections are made and may recommend criminal charges.

The ride’s owner, Southern California-based Davis Enterprises, is also conducting its own inspection, Smithson said.

Its Himalaja ride, which it’s owned since 1986, has no record of rider injuries in California in the past five years, Chasarik said. Earlier data was not available Wednesday. Davis Enterprises has had two operator injuries — one in 1991 where the details were unavailable and another in 2008, when an engineer’s fingers were crushed when assembling a ferris wheel in Montana.

A comprehensive look at the Super Himalaja’s history wasn’t available Wednesday because it travels to other states.

Davis’ Super Himalaja received its annual permit to operate in California earlier this month after passing a rigorous inspection, Cha-sarik said.

The Paso Robles ride is not the same Himalaja ride that killed a 15-year-old girl at a Texas fair in 1998, according to state officials.

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